Painting tied to smiling Tokyo statue to go on display at Ibaraki gallery

Courtesy of Ginza Mitsukoshi

A large stone statue representing Shusse Jizo-son stands on the rooftop of the Ginza Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo.

The Yomiuri ShimbunOn a rooftop of the Ginza Mitsukoshi department store complex in Tokyo there is a Shusse Jizo-son enshrined that is known as a spiritual hot spot attracting many people. A gallery in Sakai, Ibaraki Prefecture, hopes to be such a destination when it opens to the public next year to show the original painting on which a large stone statue representing the jizo guardian deity is based.

During the Meiji era (1868-1912), the jizo was enshrined on the roadside in the Ginza district of Tokyo. It got its name after it was moved to the rooftop of the department store. As the jizo literally moved up in the world, it was dubbed “shusse,” which means “gaining a successful career” in Japanese.

According to Ginza Mitsukoshi’s public relations department, the jizo was discovered in the early Meiji era in the earth of the former Sanjikkenbori moat (present-day Ginza 4-chome neighborhood). After it was enshrined on the street, many people came to visit and the sight of many street stalls on a festival day became a feature of Ginza.

Coinciding with the total renovation of the department store in 1968, the jizo was moved to the roof. However, as it has been kept in a small shrine with the door closed so people usually could not see it, Mitsukoshi received many comments from people who wanted the jizo to be visible when worshipping it.

This led to the creation of the large (2.7 meters high by 1.2 meters wide) stone statue based on the painting by Sampo Shuku (1902-1994), a painter of Japanese art from Niigata. In 1976, the large stone statue was enshrined next to the small Shusse Jizo-son shrine on the roof, presently called Ginza Terrace, an outdoor area on the ninth floor of the department store complex.

Even today, the original Shusse Jizo-son in the shrine hidden from view and the large stone statue always draw visitors, according to the department store, adding that cell phone straps based on the statue are also popular.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Masao Nakayama, left, holds a stone prototype of a Shusse Jizoson statue, while on the right is the original painting drawn by his teacher Sampo Shuku that is the basis for the statue.

As for Shuku, in his later years he moved to Sakai counting on his disciple, Masao Nakayama, 79. After Shuku died, Nakayama saved his works including the original drawing that became the stone statue. Among the collection is a small stone prototype of the large stone statue.

The gallery in Sakai has been designed by Kengo Kuma, the famed architect who also designed the new National Stadium. Construction will start soon for the gallery’s opening set for March.

For the time being, only his works will be on display. Thirty to 50 pieces, including his original drawings, will be on display permanently.

Nakayama said, “My teacher would have been happy to know that his lovely original art and models bursting with smiles will be shown to many people and used to invigorate the town.”Speech

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